Books and Beats: A Reader’s Playlist

Literature and Music: Combined

Some readers would have the sweet sound of silence accompany their reading experience, while others would rather play “The Sound of Silence” while they dive into their next poetry collection or bildungsroman. For those of us that like to fill the background with fitting music while we read, here are five book/artist combinations that compliment each other in the most artistic of ways.

1. The Catcher in the Rye & Simon & Garfunkel

Not only did Simon & Garfunkel write the song, “I Am A Rock” in honor of Holden Caulfield, but their overall NYC folksy singer/songwriter sound is perfect for a book about a boy wandering through the streets of New York City trying to find himself. The stunning harmonizations, beautifully poetic lyrics, and haunting tones that resonate from each S&G song will perfectly accompany any reading of The Catcher in the Rye.

2. Middlesex & Marvin Gaye

Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex is a book very much of its location and time period; the setting and era are almost as important to the reading of the novel as its complex main character, Cal. Similarly, Motown music defined Detroit, Michigan, during the second half of the 20th century, and Marvin Gaye was at the forefront of this musical movement. His vocal tone is unmatched, and his music pushed boundaries while still melding with the Detroit identity. If you want to add to your reading experience with music that would have been playing at everyone’s house party in the 1960s, head over to your Spotify and shuffle play Gaye’s greatest hits.

3. The Perks of Being A Wallflower & David Bowie

This pairing is obvious: the song Charlie, Sam, and Patrick connect to while driving through the tunnel is “Heroes” by David Bowie. Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being A Wallflower handles themes of identity, freedom, and escape, all three of which can be found in any Bowie song. The book and the artist are both tinged with a bit of sadness and a bit of hope and will give the reader-listener a chance at self-discovery and change.

4. Gone Girl & Fiona Apple

As one of the most critically acclaimed suspense-thriller novels of the 21st century, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is dark, gritty, and hauntingly entertaining. Fiona Apple, a female rock/pop singer from the 1990s, has the perfect voice and style to accompany a reading of this thrilling novel. She has a low and evocative voice, and the instrumentals she layers underneath her vocals give her songs a mysterious and edgy quality. With song titles like “Criminal,” “Sullen Girl” and “The Child is Gone,” nothing could go wrong with pairing these two together.

5. The Night Circus & Deaf Center

Atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere. Everyone who reads this book longs to transport themselves to a world where the Night Circus exists, and its vivid imagery longs to be experienced aurally. Deaf Center is a group that beautifully combines orchestral music with sound effects and electronic tracks to create ethereal and haunting pieces, that would pair perfectly with the magic of Celia and Marco’s world. Songs like “Lamp Mien” and “Fog Animal” will send a chill down your spine as you read about the darkly enchanting world of The Night Circus.

Do you have any favorite book/music combinations?

Let us know your favorite pairing in the comments!
Mallory Miller
the authorMallory Miller
Book Contributor
Mallory is currently enrolled at the University of North Texas, and is getting a degree in English Literature with a minor in Marketing. She hopes to pursue a career in publishing and writing after she graduates, and would love to start her own independent publishing company one day. When she isn’t reading for fun, she’s reading for school (which can be fun as well, of course!). She is also a lover of cats, coffee, and conversation. Favorite Books: Middlemarch by George Eliot, Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, and On Writing Well by William Zinsser